Shooting miniatures

Digital cameras have gotten a lot better (and more affordable) in recent years. You don't really need a special Macro (close-up) lens to take decent pictures anymore.

I don't take pictures professionally, but I'd recommend using:

Also make sure to take a couple of images using different settings, then pick the best one. Exposure, white balance and sharpness can be difficult to get right if you're in a hurry.

Editing the image

While professionals might want to tweak their photos manually in Photoshop, the automatic functions such as 'Auto Levels' and 'Auto Color' are easy to use and works pretty well. I think Gimp (a free image editor) has similar features. Just make sure you've included something pure white and pure black in the image (which you can crop away later). It gives the algorithm some reference points to work with.

Setups

This is a simple setup with a curved paper. If you work close to a window, or outside during a cloudy day, you wont get as much nasty shadows. Indoor lights tend to be high up, and mostly light the figure from one angle (the top). This makes the figure hard to read, and I find it difficult to paint in this light as well.

Indoor lights are very yellow. If you forget to white balance properly, you'll get a result along these lines.

...and Photoshop's Auto Levels in effect.

White balance is better here, but it's a bit dark still (under exposed).

...and Photoshop's Auto Levels in effect. However, we still have some nasty drop shadows.

Here I've taped aluminum foil to the sides of a box, and curved a paper to the bottom-back. The caustic-like light spots disappear once you put a light in.

Shadows nearly gone! I think Auto Levels is a bit too extreme, so I 'Fade' the result a bit. It's important to not under expose or over expose the photograph too much in the first place, because it means vital information is lost in the dark or bright areas. An image editor can't fix that sort of thing, so it's better take a new photograph. There's also the risk of getting too edit-happy in the image editor, and end up destroying too much information that way.


- Niklas Jansson, 2009